[Interview] ROCKIN’ON JAPAN 2021/2 Edition – Saito Soma – in bloom

Released: 2020/12/28

Alternate version of this interview: rockin’on.com – What Gives Saito Soma’s Music Its Immersion? From His Roots to “in bloom”!

This album was less concerned with entertainment value and following the rules. Instead, I wrote songs from different angles.

● Your music feels like it comes from very broad roots. What got you into music in the first place?

A big factor was the MiniDisc I received from a friend in middle school. The disc started with U2 and The Rolling Stones, then for some reason it took a progressive turn with Emerson, Lake & Palmer. After that was Marilyn Manson, and then the last half of the disc was all Kinniku Shojo-tai *laughs*. That’s how I learned about this world.

● And then you began making music?

Yes. In middle school and high school, I was in a band with that friend. I was on guitar and vocals. At first we tried to copy T. Rex’s “Get It On,” but I was the only one who could sing the high-tone chorus. It was impossible for me to be both main vocals and chorus at the same time, so we gave up on that song *laughs* and went straight to making our own original songs. We also liked THE STALIN and Totsuzen Danbooru, so we decided to express our middle school feelings of impatience and gloom through punk music. But since we didn’t have a drummer, we used step recording to make our songs. Rather than wanting to perform live, we just wanted to create good music. At the time, I wanted to have an orchestra-style band like Arcade Fire. Now, after all that’s happened, it feels like those things have become a part of myself.

● That’s very unique. You seem to have an endless amount of influences *laughs*. If you were that absorbed in music, I would’ve expected you to pursue a musical career directly. But instead, you went the path of a voice actor.

I liked to read, so I also wrote stories when I was in middle school. I wanted to either work as a writer or make a living off of music when I grew up. But in my first year of high school, some things happened that made me not want to go to school for a few months. I’d always liked watching anime and movies, but it was then that I first became aware of voice acting as a job. After that, I was able to return to school and even go to university, and it was anime that saved me from that period of time when I couldn’t go to school. I began to admire acting and decided to take that step forward.

● As you were building experience as a voice actor, what led to your return to musical expression?

I always loved music, so I continued to write songs as a hobby, even if I wasn’t going to show them to anyone. And while I was working as a voice actor, I had opportunities to sing via character songs, which led to being able to start a musical career under my own name. At first, other creators wrote wonderful songs for me, but after a while, I really wanted to sing songs I’d written myself. So I showed my producer the song “Reminiscence” and he said, “This is good. Let’s show it to the world.” That was an important event that led to my current career.

● After that you released your first album quantum stranger and your mini-album my blue vacation, showing your personal inclinations more and more strongly. Your newest album in bloom depicts an even greater range of musical style, bringing forth an even deeper artistic nature.

A lot of my previous songs revolved around the “end of the world” motif. I used pop-entertainment as the central focus while also reflecting my own world view with that decadent motif. But after all of that, I did feel that I was making the world end too much *laughs*. So this time, I think the songs are on the introspective or subjective side. For each song, some people think it’s easy to listen to as pop music, while other people think it’s a bit scary. Compared to my previous works, I’d say that this album was less concerned with entertainment value and following the rules. Instead, I wrote songs from different angles.

● Before the album’s release, “Petrichor,” “Summerholic!”, and “Palette” were released digitally.

At first, I wanted to release a single in June 2020 to coincide with the 3rd anniversary of my artist debut. One of the songs on it was going to be “Petrichor,” which I’d already written. But the rest of the production was halted due to the COVID-19 situation. Since “Petrichor” was about rain and the rainy season, I didn’t think there’d be any point if I couldn’t release it in June. Because of that, I asked the label for a big favour: to let me release one song at a time, digitally. They said, “In that case, we want a name for the series, to use for promotional purposes.” I named it “in bloom,” and that became the album name as well.

● “Petrichor” is an incredibly beautiful song that has rain sound effects playing all the way through. The rain never stops falling, making it a perfect representation of the rainy season. It also has themes like “singing in the rain” and lyrics like “amemachi” and “kazemachi” that feel like a homage to HAPPY END. This album has a lot of songs that freely express ideas like that, and it feels like an album that listeners can also enjoy freely interpreting.

Thankfully, the people who listened to my first full album and the next mini-album said that they wanted to hear even deeper songs too, so I felt like I could be free to do whatever I wanted this time, while of course not forgetting the pop aspect.

● “Summerholic!” was a complete change of pace, being a total summer tune.

The first song “Petrichor” was quite introspective, and the second song was going to be released in midsummer, so I thought it’d be more fun to make it something super cheerful. There was the COVID situation as well. The song is straightforward for once: “Since it’s so sunny, I refuse to go outside” *laughs*. I thought it’d be nice for it to be so cheerful that it’s scary.

● It is. Even though it’s a thrilling, sunny rock song, there’s a sense of fear or madness for some reason. The same goes for “Kitchen.”

It’s a crazy song, right? *laughs* “Kitchen” came about because since I was spending more time self-isolating at home, I wanted to try using motifs that I purposely hadn’t for my first album. It’s a song that could only exist because of this year.

● The shoegazing aspect of “Isana,” which was created with The Florist’s band sound, is also wonderful.

Thank you. The arrangement for “Isana” is truly splendid. It became a concluding song for this album. This album was a continuation from my previous “end of the world” theme, depicting what comes afterwards, and this song is deeply connected to that previous work.

● It’s a defining song for the album’s impression, right? It could even be called the hidden lead track.

Yes. To think that it’s over eight minutes long *laughs*. If I get to perform it live, I really want to make full use of space-type effects.

● It seems like it’d be the highlight of a concert, so I’m looking forward to it too. Speaking of which, you’ll be having a live tour next April and May, right?

Yes. As I said before, I originally wasn’t that interested in performing live. But after having my first concert with a band, I got addicted to it. It was so much fun. Those feelings were also reflected in my later songwriting. We’re currently in the midst of planning, so please wait a little longer.